Imposters again target NYC Apple Store, pilfer $16,000 in iPhones

Posted:
in General Discussion edited June 2016
New York's Apple Stores have been hit by a rash of burglaries perpetrated by thieves employee lookalikes, the latest heist seeing more than $16,000 worth of iPhones swiped from the company's swanky SoHo outlet.




The New York Police Department said a man dressed in an outfit similar to Apple Store's regulation blue T-shirt waltzed into a back-of-store repair workroom at Apple's SoHo store on June 1, and snatched 19 iPhones valued at $16,130, reports DNAinfo. The hardware was passed off to an accomplice who made off with the loot hidden under his own faux Apple Store blues.

Filching nearly 20 iPhones -- likely flipped for filthy, filthy lucre -- in a single day is bold, but as Gizmodo notes, the recent thievery might be the latest in a string of heists. Earlier this year the New York Post reported on a small gang of thieves who hit the Upper West Side Apple Store twice in as many months.

Similar to the SoHo job, a woman disguised as an Apple Store worker snuck eight iPhones out of the UWS store in February. Two male partners in crime aided and abetted -- one caused a distraction while the other was posted as a lookout. The trio returned to that same store in March and managed to stuff another 59 iPhones into a duffel bag before arousing the suspicion of employees. The 67 stolen iPhones were valued at some $49,300, the report said.

It is unclear why Apple Stores are falling prey to the employee imposter gambit, but some speculate the company's recent change in uniform code is to blame. When retail chief Angela Ahrendts came on board, one of her first items of business was to unify store dress code by reinstating the iconic blue employee T-shirt with small white Apple logo. Although variations are permitted -- short sleeve, long sleeve, crew neck and polo shirt -- employees are obliged to wear the same dark blue apparel year round, making it easier for criminals to create copycat designs. AppleInsider was first to report on the "Back to Blue...But All New" policy last year.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,689member
    Everyone should badge in to get to the back office and badge in again to get to where the iPhones are kept. Simple solution if you ask me. 
    edited June 2016 pulseimagesxiamenbillargonautirelandtechlovercaccamuccafreerangephone-ui-guyjbdragon
  • Reply 2 of 24
    Prismo1Prismo1 Posts: 3member
    This article is wrong in a lot of ways, Apple employees wore polo shirts for about 2 months while new high quality shirts were being prepared. They are currently in green long sleeve or short sleeve tshirts for earth awareness. And alternate during the year between navy, gray (green, which is new), and red for holidays. They haven't worn "happy blue" shirts since before the launch of the Apple Watch. So it isn't easier to copycat, if anything it's harder. As before Angela came on board there was basically one shirt design for 80% of the year, in one color, made of a common polo material. With the exception of red during holidays. Now shirts alternate every few months and are a high quality silken stretch material. The reporting on this site is usually good. But this is a bit sloppy
    ireland
  • Reply 3 of 24
    bobschlobbobschlob Posts: 1,074member
    "It is unclear why Apple Stores are falling prey to the employee imposter gambit"

    It's pretty clear. They're falling prey because the scam works and is pretty easy to pull off.
    Why there is not the appropriate form of security in place that would stop, just this kind of scam, is what is not clear.
    argonautirelandtokyojimujbdragon
  • Reply 4 of 24
    payecopayeco Posts: 301member
    I feel like the obvious answer here is put an RFID in employee badges that causes an alarm to go off when some goes through the BOH doorway without a valid badge. Managers could keep spare valid badges up front for the very rare instances where non-employees go to the back of house.
  • Reply 5 of 24
    Prismo1 said:
    This article is wrong in a lot of ways, Apple employees wore polo shirts for about 2 months while new high quality shirts were being prepared. They are currently in green long sleeve or short sleeve tshirts for earth awareness. And alternate during the year between navy, gray (green, which is new), and red for holidays. They haven't worn "happy blue" shirts since before the launch of the Apple Watch. So it isn't easier to copycat, if anything it's harder. As before Angela came on board there was basically one shirt design for 80% of the year, in one color, made of a common polo material. With the exception of red during holidays. Now shirts alternate every few months and are a high quality silken stretch material. The reporting on this site is usually good. But this is a bit sloppy
    I don't know where you get your info but I visited the Natick Collection Apple Store last week and they were all wearing the blue Apple sale shirts.
  • Reply 6 of 24
    How do Apple retail employees not know who they work with? If someone I didn't recognize walked into my office I would want to know who they were and why they were there. Especially when it's behind the retail space. 
    Habi_tweetjbdragon
  • Reply 7 of 24
    Can these stolen iPhones be activated at all?
    radarthekat
  • Reply 8 of 24
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,861member
    jungmark said:
    Everyone should badge in to get to the back office and badge in again to get to where the iPhones are kept. Simple solution if you ask me. 

    Yeah I don't know why they don't have a door card reader to the back room? Not only are stock back there, but also customer's devices for repair as well which could just as easily be stolen (with all of their personal data on it BTW). Also, why aren't the phones and all other stock locked up in a cage all day. It takes 2 seconds to unlock a cage to get an iPhone or a MacBook, etc for a customer should they want to buy one. Little things could prevent things like this from happening. 
    edited June 2016
  • Reply 9 of 24
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,861member

    vitaprimo said:
    Can these stolen iPhones be activated at all?

    I would think Apple would have a list of the stolen phones pretty quickly and deactivate them so when turned on they cannot be activated by Apple, rendering them useless. People are just stupid and don't think of stuff like this. I seriously doubt those phones will be of any use and the sad part is, it won't matter because they'll just sell them on eBay, get their money and people like you and I will be the one suffering from it. 
  • Reply 10 of 24
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,564member

    Image if they guy who pulled off the who no pants on the subway prnak along with show up to Best Buy in the blue shirts did the same thing at an Apple store all the confusion it would cause and would make it easy for anyone to walk out with product.

    I would say these are inside jobs as well,  walking in the back and locating product and not drawing attention means they had some ideal how things work in the store.

    edited June 2016
  • Reply 11 of 24
    Prismo1Prismo1 Posts: 3member
    Prismo1 said:
    This article is wrong in a lot of ways, Apple employees wore polo shirts for about 2 months while new high quality shirts were being prepared. They are currently in green long sleeve or short sleeve tshirts for earth awareness. And alternate during the year between navy, gray (green, which is new), and red for holidays. They haven't worn "happy blue" shirts since before the launch of the Apple Watch. So it isn't easier to copycat, if anything it's harder. As before Angela came on board there was basically one shirt design for 80% of the year, in one color, made of a common polo material. With the exception of red during holidays. Now shirts alternate every few months and are a high quality silken stretch material. The reporting on this site is usually good. But this is a bit sloppy
    I don't know where you get your info but I visited the Natick Collection Apple Store last week and they were all wearing the blue Apple sale shirts.
    I work for Apple Retail. 
  • Reply 12 of 24
    payecopayeco Posts: 301member
    theromero said:
    How do Apple retail employees not know who they work with? If someone I didn't recognize walked into my office I would want to know who they were and why they were there. Especially when it's behind the retail space. 
    I worked at an Apple retail store back in '07-'08 and often saw people I had never seen before and was told they had worked there for years when I asked about them. With most stores open 80+ hours a week and employing hundreds of people there are even full time employees who you may have never seen before because of the schedule you work. It's hard to understand unless you've worked there. 
  • Reply 13 of 24
    techlovertechlover Posts: 879member
    jungmark said:
    Everyone should badge in to get to the back office and badge in again to get to where the iPhones are kept. Simple solution if you ask me. 
    Good idea.

    Maybe Apple could make good use of Touch I.D. here.

    Get hired to work at an Apple Store, give them one finger print, and depending on the position/job that day the fingerprint would only unlock the proper cages/areas for access.

    Just a thought.
  • Reply 14 of 24
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,595member
    Every Apple employee should openly bear arms and peace will be assured /s
    singularityKawhi
  • Reply 15 of 24
    looks to me like employees should be getting smartbadges for access to areas where equipment is left lying around
    jbdragon
  • Reply 16 of 24
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,108member
    theromero said:
    How do Apple retail employees not know who they work with? If someone I didn't recognize walked into my office I would want to know who they were and why they were there. Especially when it's behind the retail space. 
    I suspect some of these criminals are former employees or have friends in the stores.
    jbdragon
  • Reply 17 of 24
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,108member
    looks to me like employees should be getting smartbadges for access to areas where equipment is left lying around
    Maybe the majority of employees should have no access to their stockroom or every entry and exit should require the use of TouchID. Apple has the worlds best security on their phone and can't keep their own products secure? Someone isn't doing their job.
  • Reply 18 of 24
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,262member
    I worked in one of the first Apple Stores in 2001. At that time, any one of us could walk into the cage in the back to get product for a buyer. Later, they assigned only one employee to act as gatekeeper and runner. You went back to the cage, asked for what you needed, and he would go in and get it. Sounds like they abandoned that simple and secure practice. Although the one theft was from the repair room, making me wonder if the stolen phones might have been broken. The whole thing reeks of insider job. The thieves may have been imposters, but they were getting intelligence from within. 
    SpamSandwichjbdragon
  • Reply 19 of 24
    I've bought two phones at my local store at The Grove in LA, and observed other iPhone purchases. Each time they texted someone, then a person showed up, phone in hand, other phones purchases also hand delivered by same person. Appears they have tight control over trail the phone follows. Have no idea what happens behind the back room door once the deliverer punches in his/her code to get in. This store sounds like a looser set up if somebody can scoop up handful of phones and push up the shirt of accomplice. Somebody HAD to know sequence of events, storage details etc. to get a cut of sales proceeds,which will likely be burned through by the time insurance detectives track them down. 
  • Reply 20 of 24
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,445member
    theromero said:
    How do Apple retail employees not know who they work with? If someone I didn't recognize walked into my office I would want to know who they were and why they were there. Especially when it's behind the retail space. 
    That's my question.   And how is the area where the iPhones are stored not kept locked?   Or if not the area itself, why are the phones not kept in a locked cage?   And no security camera on the area?   Also, while it might not prevent theft, Apple should know the serial numbers of the phones that were stolen - couldn't they remote kill (or even track) the phones?    The remote kill capability has greatly reduced muggings of people for their phones.   

    Also, the Soho store usually has an Apple employee at the front door and I believe that the Apple store entrances have security tag readers.   If people come walking in with employee shirts on, why aren't they questioned or at least watched?   And how did the phones not trigger the security system unless the thieves also had access to the device that renders the trigger mute?    

    I have to believe these were inside jobs or they were assisted by actual employees.   If Apple goes to the trouble of keeping phones in a back room rather than on a shelf or behind the registers (although most transactions take place on portable devices), why isn't there better security in the back room?   Apple might not be able to prevent some idiot from crashing their car through the front of a store, but they can certainly prevent these kinds of walk-in thefts.   And for the crappy retail pay, why don't they have an employee doing nothing but security on that room?   Seems baffling. 
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